Daughter of Turkish father to remain in England, High Court rules

Children|January 9th 2017

The young daughter of a Turkish national should not be returned from England because the risk of domestic violence is too great, the High Court has ruled.

T v E concerned an application a referred to as ‘T’ for the ‘summary’ (rapid) return of his daughter to Turkey. The application was issued in July last year.

The mother had taken their then two year-old daughter, ‘L’, out of the country the previous year. She opposed the father’s application, although she did admit that removing their daughter had been in breach of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. She also admitted that by the time of her departure with L, the girl had had acquired ‘habitual residence’ in Turkey – meaning she was legally resident there.

The English mother was, at 40, more than eight years older than the father. She had a history of serious depression and mental health problems. She was prescribed antidepressants and missed a year of work. She eventually met L’s father in 2009 and began a relationship with him. They lived in England for a while and L was born here in 2013. Later the couple married and returned to Turkey.

The mother claimed that the relationship was repeatedly marred by outbursts of violence by the father, especially after their marriage and the birth of their daughter. She cited a number of serious incidents, including multiple rapes, angry accusations of infidelity, and him hitting her arm so hard a visit to hospital was required, where the father reportedly told the doctors that a wardrobe had fallen on her. On another occasion she claimed he had given her a black eye by throwing a child’s toy at her because he thought she was looking at another man.

The father denied her various allegations.

After her return to England, the mother resisted T’s attempts to have her return their daughter to Turkey, arguing that doing so would place them at risk of physical or emotional harm and place them in an “intolerable situation”, an allowable defence under Article 13(b) of the Convention.

In the High Court, Mr Justice MacDonald accepted T’s claim. The mother’s mental health was likely to deteriorate again if forced to return and this would inevitably have a negative impact on their daughter.

A fact-finding hearing into the mother’s allegations of domestic violence was unnecessary, the Judge concluded. Evidence was already available, on social media and in admissions made by the father, and this was sufficient to establish the reality of the mother’s concerns, the Judge explained. He noted the mother’s diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder since her return.

He concluded:

“I am satisfied that the defence under Art 13(b) is made out on the evidence before the court. Within this context, I am further satisfied that I should exercise my discretion not to order the return of L to the jurisdiction of Turkey. In the circumstances, I dismiss the father’s application for summary return.”

Read the ruling here.

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